“How did you find this place?” is what everyone who comes to our home for the first time asks but what they really mean is, “Why in the world are you living here?” By Taiwanese standards, it is not convenient; there are no 7-11s, markets or food stalls. Our neighbors are farmers, painters, garage door repair workers, and other occupations that require the typical Taiwanese blue work truck. Our village is where these blue work trucks come home to at night. Yet, we believe an important reason we live here is because of God’s providence to intertwine our lives with the Guo family.
We returned for our second term during the hottest time of the year. During the craziness of the first few days of cleaning and moving, we bought a used car. We parked it halfway in our garage to unload things. While Brian was in the middle of moving boxes up our narrow staircase, he suddenly heard someone in a panicked voice call, “你在家嗎？你在家嗎?” (Are you home?) Brian immediately responded, “在家！在家！” (I’m home!) He raced down the stairs to find Mr. Guo, a 63 year old man with a bald head and round stomach in paint splattered clothes, standing by our garage door that had closed on the windshield of our newly purchased car. The garage door remote must have been accidentally hit in Brian’s pocket. Mr. Guo worked with Brian to get the garage door back up and miraculously there wasn’t even a scratch on the car. Mr. Guo gruffly asked Brian to come over to drink tea some time and left. When Brian recounted the events to me, he added, “I think this is the beginning of a friendship.”
As we settled into our home, we got to know the Guo family. God was already at work. Mrs. Guo, the Guo’s son and former daughter-in-law were baptized a few months prior to our move but Mr. Guo refused to go to church. However, after hearing that we were missionaries, Mr. Guo felt it was his role to introduce us to the local church. He arranged a dinner at his home for us to meet the leaders of the church in order to work out how we could help with their university group. He also drove us to the Saturday evening meetings at church. At first, we didn’t want to impose and mostly because his car reeked of cigarette smoke so we told him we could drive ourselves. However, his former daughter-in-law secretly told us to accept his offer to drive so that he would also attend the meetings at church, which he did. He drove us there, attended the class while we helped with the university ministry, and drove us back home. Eventually, he started attending Sunday morning service as well.
Mr. Guo accepted Christ and was baptized at our church last September. A month after his baptism, he agreed to remove the god shelf and ancestor tablets from his home. We joined the Guo family and church members in their upstairs room formerly dedicated for the god shelf. Mrs. Guo participated with the program but Mr. Guo was only seen for a few minutes. He came upstairs with everyone, looked uncomfortable, grabbed his mother’s prayer beads and left.
Just a few weeks after their idols were removed, Mr. Guo told us that he would need surgery on his back. It was an old injury that had resurfaced from all the back breaking work he does for his painting business. We were afraid that this would be a stumbling block in his faith because the timing was so close to the removal of his god shelf. However, when we visited him in the hospital after his surgery, he was in good spirits and explained how God used this surgery to bring his family together. At that time, we didn’t understand their complicated family dynamics but we did see Mr. Guo’s daughters reconnect with their parents.
Mr. Guo has since stopped coming to church because of work opportunities that come up on Sunday mornings. He still smokes and has animosity towards his son. However, God is not done with him. We are living in this home not only because it is close to the universities, where we are doing ministry, but we are also here for Mr. Guo and his family. We are thankful to be part of their journey.
Faith Janssen – Yanchao, Kaohsiung